Tag Archives: wildlife

Squirrels: The Final Chapter. Hopefully.

You can’t imagine the thrill, the exciting rush of victory when you conquer an animal with a brain the size of a pea.

We reset the trap – this time I put a tiny dollop of peanut butter on the trigger so it’d have to really park there to eat it. The exterminator recommended peanut butter. Last night I rebuilt the tunnel and left the front door open. If this squirrel was ripping out insulation to get outside it must be smart enough to run out the front door. (ha ha)

Didn’t hear a peep. Couldn’t see it. This one was climbing up inside somehow. Closed up for the night.

When I got up this morning he was frolicking around the trap.

I opened the front door and fireplace and watch it hop around. I hate to say it but they are really cute. It perched exactly on the edge of the fireplace door and looked longingly out the front door but didn’t try to make a break for it.

I went into the other room and then I could hear it eating. I ran back in and it was eating the peanut butter and TRAP DID NOT SPRING.

What dark magic are these squirrels up to?

I tried to spring it but he hopped out. Bob decided to fiddle to make sure the spring was operating and when he reached in, the trap sprung, startling all of us.

Here I will note that squirrels make a wide variety of noises. They make sad squeaky noises, high pitched chirping noises and low-growly noises.

Squirrely growled.

Bob fixed the trap, re-peanutbuttered it and put it back in. We closed everything up.

It took about a half hour. We both heard the trap spring (Bob was downstairs) and squirrely’s outraged growly-squeaks.

Bob and I ran around high-fiving each other and cheering and doing variations of the victory dance before taking it outside. Of course it was too stupid to leave the trap by itself (it kept eating the peanut butter) so we had to dump it out. While it was squeaking another bigger squirrel came wandering over to see what was going on.

Total squirrels removed so far: 4
Recommended tools: trap with peanut butter – be patient, if desperate shop vac.

We have reset the trap and put it back in the fireplace, just in case.

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The Squirrel Clown Car Continues

I’m sure you’ve been dying to hear how the squirrel story ended.

Me too!

To recap: three little squirrels arrived on Wednesday night.

None of the the things we did previously worked. Everything we did scared them into a little trembling fur ball back in the corner of the fireplace. They would carefully explore the edges of the fireplace but they would not come out.

I tried luring them out with carrot snacks. They weren’t going for it. I threw the carrot snacks in the fireplace when I closed it up Wednesday night. They were going to have to spend the night in there.

Later I told a friend about the carrots and he said: You have pet squirrels now.

On Thursday we all became more comfortable with each other. One of them came out of the fireplace and proceeded to escape the tunnel and explore the living room. Bob scared him and he ran back into the fireplace. Later I watched him go all the way to the front door and peek out. I grabbed the broom and in a split second he was back in the fireplace.

These little guys are dumb.

We went out and got a trap and set it in the fireplace – this was our last resort.

When we woke up this morning they had nibbled at the snacks, sprung the trap and were napping quietly under the grate.

That’s it! We have a life to live. We called an exterminator.

$250 to set the trap plus $100 per animal removed.

Okay, we’ll keep trying on our own.

It seemed like the only way to get them was to put on heavy duty gloves and yank them out — except there are three of them, so we weren’t sure how that was going to work and we weren’t in the mood to get bitten by a squirrel.

Meanwhile, I had called Chris to come over and cover the chimney. I asked him what he thought we should do. He went through all the things that we had already tried. We discussed and discarded some other ideas and settled on the shop vac.

Man, those things make a THWOP! sound when they go through the pipe.

Great news. We got all three. My fireplace was clean. We put them outside. Problem solved.

I cleaned up the giant mess from the tunnel. Vacuumed. Scrubbed everything around the fireplace. Put away all the implements we’d found to try to sweep them out, poke them out, scare them out, scoop them out, squirt them out, loud sound them out. My house was back to normal and I could relax.

Or could I?

Because a half hour later I came into the house to the sound of squeaking and a squirrel in the fireplace.

D’oh! I don’t know why it wasn’t obvious there’s a nest in there and now squirrely is trapped because we screened off the chimney.

We called a different exterminator who said we were doing everything right. Put the trap back in the fireplace. The squirrel has nowhere to go. We can get him.

So I reset the trap. Went outside to do yardwork.

Returned and checked the fireplace.

The peanuts were eaten. The trap wasn’t sprung. The squirrel has torn out huge pieces of the insulation from around the insert.

Like a horror movie, my next note will probably be written while I’m hiding under the bed, cowering from my squirrel overlord.

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Why Pam Can’t Read

I am reading a giant sci fi book that I really like and would love to dig into but it seems like every time I manage to pick it up, something happens. I’m on page 28 and I’ve been “reading” it for at least 2 weeks. This morning I decided to treat myself to a leisurely hour of reading before I started my day.

I had barely cracked the book open and re-read the last 10 pages to remember what was going on and I heard this incredible noise coming from the living room. I wasn’t sure what it was but I hoped that was related to something Bob was doing (in the basement, sure, why not?) and I ignored it.

That’s my favorite method of problem solving is ignore and hope it goes away.

No luck. It was clear that there was something alive stuck in our fireplace. The doors to it are closed unless there is a fire in there.

Since I read too many stories of course I pictured some sort of giant 2 headed spider-bird with huge teeth.

I ran to the basement and said: I think something is stuck in the fireplace and I’m scared.

Bob said: I don’t want to deal with it.

Me: You’re the guy. You have to.

We went back upstairs and looked.

It was a squirrel and it looked like it was as unhappy about the situation as we were.

Sorry this is such a terrible photo. My intentions for great photo-journalism were tempered by my fear of crazy squirrels jumping up and biting me. If you use your imagination you can see its fluffy tail and one beady eye.

Bob wanted to try to capture it and throw it outside. I thought too many things could go wrong with that.

It’s a straight shot from the fireplace to the front door. I figured if the front door was wide open it would just run outside.

This sounds like a great plan but if the squirrel freaked out and decided to hide somewhere in the house, we were screwed.

Using furniture and boxes we built a tunnel from the fireplace to the front door.

I’m sure Hannah will be delighted to see that I still haven’t taken down my World Cup banner. I keep thinking about it but once I take it down, then it’s just something put away in a box. Why not keep enjoying it?

I went around and closed all the bedroom and bathroom doors to minimize the damage if Squirrely decided to check out the house.

We opened the fireplace.

Nothing happened. I called gentle encouragements. “You’re free squirrel!”

Bob threatened to get a broom.

Nothing happened. It was hiding under the grate.

Bob got the broom.

That little guy shot out the front door at the speed of light.

Success! We haven’t had such wild animal drama here since the dramatic baby raccoon rescue of 2004.

I took a video, because of course everything has to be documented but I don’t know how to edit videos and I wasted 1/2 hour this morning trying to figure it out. I guess I can take an online class and you can expect it in 6 years.

Meanwhile the video isn’t really worth it because (a) during the first half you’re looking at a fireplace with me cooing: “It’s okay squirrel. Come on, baby, it’s okay” and then (b) during the second half the camera is at a weird angle because I didn’t want to risk getting attacked by an ash covered squirrel. So it’s basically 1/2 second of brown lump zooming out the door so fast its feet didn’t touch the ground.

The evict squirrel project ate into my reading time but I made it to page 47.

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Garden Update and What’s Been Going On

I did something today I haven’t done in a long time, I threw a fit in public.

The situation seems to happen on a regular basis. I’m waiting in line and some manager type person comes over and tells me to move to another checkstand and by the time I move all my crap and get over there, it takes longer than it would have taken if I just stood there. I’m guessing they get docked brownie points for too many people waiting but if you’re wasting my time moving me someplace else then you aren’t addressing the right problem.

This guy moved me way across the store the guest services and when I got over there, there was a lady with a giant cart filled with stuff and a long story. After 10 minutes I went back to the registers to start all over. And when manger type guy came back, I let him know how I felt.

I’m always mortified after I do that, but WTF?

This is my Stupice that my mother-in-law gave me. I put it in early with the walls of water and it’s been producing but the tomatoes are pretty small.

This is one I grew from seeds and these are the first ripe ones.

The clover is from my cover crop I tried last winter. I have little clover bits popping up here and there.

The birds are tearing apart the sunflowers. In my observation, based on no scientific knowledge, I’m going to guess that winter is coming early around here. All the animals are going crazy burying nuts or grabbing seeds and it feels earlier than normal to me.

I’ve been having some alone time at 3am lately and for the past two nights, just after 3am, we’ve had a family of raccoons in the front yard. Well, family, what do I know? There are three and they aren’t too big. I’m not positive what they’re eating since it’s hard to tell with your forehead pressed against the screen but I’m hoping it’s snails.

Here’s a flower that’s been cleaned out by the birds. There was a sparrow convention out there around noon today.

These are the cucumbers. Cucumbers hate me. I start them in the house and I assumed they always shriveled up on me when I put them out because it was too cold. This year it was plenty warm and they still never did anything. I’ve had some good cucumber crops but not for years. I’ll buy different seeds and try again next year. And maybe read something about cucumbers. Maybe they need names and extra encouragement or something.

Some potatoes just hanging out in the dirt.

I had a work trip to Reno this week. Poor Reno, it tries so hard but you get the sense it’s never going to be more than the pimple-faced less-sexy sibling of Las Vegas.

There was an interesting character in the airport when we were departing and Bob leaned over and said: Burning Man starts this week.

Burning Man was rained out right before opening. There was a whole group of guys loading coolers into the shuttle to the hotel. The driver said: It’s been like this all day, they’re rained out. The hotel was filled with Burning Man refugees. Colorful characters until the end of time. It was kind of fun to be on the fringe.

From the window at our side of the hotel I counted at least 50 RVs. I wanted to get a photo but when I woke up at 6:30am already a third were gone and I watched 8 pull out while I stood there.

A friend laughed that we were going to Reno in August but it was hotter in Portland.

This is another plant started from seeds. This is as far as it’s gotten but the tomatoes are decent sized.

Whoa. What’s going on here?

The pumpkin patch is looking great. It got a little cooked a couple of times but it’s still making tiny pumpkins. I think there are at least 7 good looking ones going right now.

I did finally go through my digital photos and I should be able to get some Montreal stuff up this weekend.

If you didn’t catch it, Daniel Shamaun wrote a piece about my story, Battle of Little Big Science. You can find it here.

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FIFA World Cup Games 45 and 49and Orleans Car Accident

Finally, I’m going to tell about the car accident in Orleans. But first, World Cup action.

Thursday was, thank the maker, the last day of group play. Germany v. USA.

My gateway into soccer was via the German National Team and they are still my favorites which causes a lot of heartburn when they have to play against the USA. I wanted a good game, leaning Germany with the option of changing my mind if the party called for it.

Fortunately, it all worked out. Germany won and both teams went through to the next round. Whew!

Yesterday was a “rest day” but only from World Cup. I had a Timbers game to go to and it was awful. Terrible to watch and we lost. No need to go into details.

Then this morning 9am I was ready for Brazil and Chile. And there were stretches where I thought I was re-living last night’s game. Choppy and terrible to watch. Chile played their hearts out. Penalty kicks are awful and seemingly designed to make 1 man feel horrible. But Brazil goes through.

Tomorrow Netherlands v Mexico. That should be a great match.

Now, to finally tell the Orleans story. Relevant to the story: Orleans is in a rural area in the Six Rivers National Forest. My folks have a little trailer separate from the house and that’s where I stay when I visit.

I woke up in the middle of the night because of a weird noise — a high pitched humming sort of like a chainsaw. I got up and looked out the windows and didn’t see anything. Then I heard voices and I came to the most obvious conclusion: that there was marauding youth gang out murdering people with chainsaws.

I looked toward the house and the lights were on. I wondered how I should best prepare.

Then I saw my parents’ car go screaming out of the driveway.

It’s hard to tell but there’s a boulder and we think the car lost control and hit the boulder and then flipped. The whole scene didn’t make sense so we’re not clear what happened. Also, Ishi Pishi Road is the last road you would want to drive like a maniac on. I will try to post photos of it tomorrow. It’s very narrow and winding.

I ran to the house and went inside and the dog was there wagging his tail.

I then assumed that someone in my family must have keeled over and they were rushing to town (2 hour drive). My sister was visiting too, but neither of our spouses. I went from room to room looking for clues.

Why did they leave me? The dog wagged his tail. I didn’t think they’d leave the dog to the murderous youth gang.

I couldn’t come up with a scenario where the strange noise and disappearance of my family were connected. I knew I couldn’t sleep so I fretting on the couch and then searched for clues and then asked the dog why they left us there in regular intervals.

I finally went to the trailer to put on my shoes so I could feel like I was doing something productive and the car came back.

Here’s what happened. A car went too fast and flipped and started a fire. Fires in the middle of the forest in June are extremely hazardous. They’d seen the flames from their window and hurried to see what was happening. There were neighbors and other people helping to do fire fighting stuff in the hopes the fire wouldn’t spread.

There were young people in the car. One broke his leg. Allegedly there were illegal substances (plural!) found at the scene.

Mission accomplished, they were able to keep the fire under control until the volunteer fire department got there. And it looked terrible. But no one was hurt. Well, the guy with the broken leg was hurt. But no one died.

And my family promised to wake me up next time there’s an emergency.

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Use Your Eyes Birds

At the end of last summer I found a sunflower filled with seeds that hadn’t been torn apart by the squirrels and birds and I stuck it in the shop to deal with later. My thought was that I’d have my very own sunflower seeds to snack on.

Like many things that I stick in the shop to deal with later, I never got around to dealing with this.

At the beginning of January when I was still fresh and optimistic about getting things done, I brought it in the house and looked for a YouTube tutorial that would tell me the easiest way to get the seeds out. The tutorial told me that when the sunflower was ready, I could just shake all the seeds out.

I wrapped the sunflower in an old bedsheet and shook it around like crazy and no seeds came out.

That was enough of that project. I threw the sunflower back out in the garden and figured the birds and squirrels would find it.

That was over a month ago.

No birds or squirrels ever paid any attention to it until this weekend when I saw all these creatures rioting over it and chasing each other off and taking turns dragging it around the yard.

So animals don’t notice food sitting around until another animal notices it? Which animal noticed it first? I wanted to go out and yell at them that they could have been gorging on sunflower seeds a month ago if they’d been paying attention.

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Random Unrelated Notes

Bob is on his way back from New Orleans tonight and his plane is delayed. He said if it was after 11pm he would take a shuttle home but I told him I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep if I was waiting for him to get home so I’d just come get him. Of course, now I’m sleepy.

I have a bunch of random unrelated notes and I’m going to stick them here in one un-thematically linked entry.

This morning on my walk I came up the hill on Walnut and looked up and there was a buck. Well, I guess actually it’s called a spike. I’m not exactly a hunter person. It didn’t have actual antlers yet but little nubbins and it stopped and I stopped and we stared at each other. It was huge and just standing in someone’s driveway. After a minute it took a half dozen slow steps and then jogged out of my sight and probably down the hill more towards the train tracks where there aren’t any houses. As I walked the rest of the way up the hill a woman came out of her house and asked if I saw the deer and pointed up the street and said she saw it come from there.

So what is the proper method to style bangs? When Cha does my hair she flicks her wrist and my bangs look perfect. She could be using a pitchfork and a blowtorch and flick: perfect. I use products and hair dryers and round brushes and they end up looking like stunt bangs from Something About Mary every time.

I know I’m not a parent but I don’t understand parents and kids sometimes. I saw some lady walking out of the market tonight and her kid looked perfectly normal except a bit fidgety but it was a boy, maybe 8 years old so not outside of what you might expect and here goes the mom hauling off smacking the poor kid in front of the store where God and everyone (me) could watch. And the kid was kind of big so extra humiliation factor. Then I’m inside the store and the most obnoxious, not-cute, whiny girl is screeching at her Dad to push the cart faster and buy this or that — clearly a moment where a good smack might have come in handy and the Dad does nothing and for next fifteen minutes everyone in the store gets to listen to this. Can he at least try to quiet her?

Bleu cheese — I though I hated it. I associate it with this nasty smelling salad dressing my mom made on Saturday nights. But when Bob and I were in Tacoma we had this asparagus dish with a sauce of balsamic vinegar and bleu cheese — try this at home, seriously, it’s the best thing ever. So we’ve been buying bleu cheese and I’ve been eating it on crackers and crumbling it on salads and this is like the best food discovery since brown betty.

I have some more stuff to write about Angel, because I’ve watched at least three more episodes since I wrote last. But I’ll spare you. But really, it’s so painful to watch, knowing where they’re going, especially Wesley, and again, knowing how they all end up.

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